Reply To: Look at de state of Cork, like!

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At the end of the day, were I to decide, I would most likely favour this development – for reasons of aesthetics, regeneration, jobs and in-line with some of the Cork City Development Plan principles – however (and I never ever thought I’d find myself in agreement with a Green Party TD), I have to say, I have an air of suspicion about this project. The current number of rooms in Jurys Hotel Cork is 185 (159 Standard, 23 Executive, 2 Junior Suites and 1 Presidential). The new development proposes a hotel of 182 bedrooms (3 fewer) and 303 luxury apartments. Though I deem the design of the project acceptable, the economics is curious. If Jurys had intended to extend its operations in Cork (as declared in Feburary 2004), why is it in fact reducing its own capacity? And furthermore, reducing its direct investment policy in the city? (Preferring a more removed lease basis at 2m euro p.a.). Furthermore, with 84% of all large scale construction in Cork related to apartments (currently almost 2,000 of which in planning or in mid-construction, are aimed squarely at the luxury market – i.e. 285,000euros and up) is the addition of a further 303 luxury end apartments at this location truly viable? Of the 325,000 metropolitan Cork and 498,000 greater Cork city area citizens, how many can afford in excess of 285,000euros each for over 2,000 current and an additional 2,500 projected luxury end apartments? Thats 4,500 city centre apartments spaces all in excess of 285,000 euros – and not including car parking spaces which range in Cork city anywhere between 25,000 to 80,000 euros. Residential Demand in Cork city remains above average, although the majority of this demand (65%) is among lower to middle income persons. A recent article in the Irish Examiner stated that waiting lists and demand as a whole had increased – this is true, but the main increase was among the aforementioned income groups, which found that new market supply was being provided at a sale price above their sustainable repayment levels. As prices continue to increase more and more persons find themselves applying for more affordable and often sub-standard accomodation. I support Riga Ltd’s proposal on the basis, that such a large-scale investment requires extensive market research and clearly, at some level, the market must be egging them on. Although my own research has found such a demand, it is a far more controlled demand than these large-scale developments seem to represent. I support any project that will bring greater residency back into the city, but to do this, building accomodation simply isn’t enough. A city has to entice people back into its realms by providing the services (retail, nightlife, sports & leisure, aesthetics, transport and unrivalled working environments) in order for people to have incentive to want to take up this accomodation. I believe we need greater services investment in the city to balance the supply of residential complexes. However, the Cork market currently seems to have an insatiable appetite for all things apartments – I just worry about its sustainability without further services investment. Mahon Point, Academy Street and Blackpool isn’t enough.

Oddly, I feel the Water Street development (though accomodation based) will provide an incentive for further services investment with relation to the docklands, and this is what we need. However, I do believe the Jurys development, will be beneficial if it is successful (and it probably will, O’Callaghan rarely invest in something unless they’re gauranteed a return) because increased city centre residency should spur further services investment.

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